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In its 85-year story, the mission of our institute has been to carry out excellence research in fundamental and applied physical chemistry, contributing to the scientific training of several generations of researchers at the highest level. Our vision is to be an international reference in multidisciplinary research focused on the resolution of the present challenges of our society in the fields of health, biotechnology, new materials, and environment.


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December 2017
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historia contaminacionWe have reconstructed the mercury and lead atmospheric deposition in NE Spain during the last 700 years using the concentration of these pollutants in lake sediments from the Pyrenees (Lake Montcortès). The main source of atmospheric mercury deposited in the lake is related to the mercury production in Almadén (the world´s largest mercury mine). Lead pollution is related to local mining activities in the Pyrenees and the use of leaded gasoline during the second half of the 20th century. This study highlights the sensitiveness of lake sediments to atmospheric pollution from a historical perspective.
The attached figure (linked to a bigger one) shows the Mercury (Hg) and lead (Pb) deposition rates since the 14th century, and their relationship to i) mercury production in Almadén, ii) local galena mining in the Pyrenees, and iii) the period using leaded gasoline in Europe (between 1950 and 1990).
Corella, J.P., Valero-Garcés, B.L., Wang, F., Martínez-Cortizas, A., Cuevas, C.A., Saiz-Lopez, A. “700 years reconstruction of mercury and lead atmospheric deposition in the Pyrenees (NE Spain)”. Atmospheric Environment (2017) 155, 97-107. (doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2017.02.018)



imanes-molecularesA scientific collaboration between the Institute of Physical Chemistry "Rocasolano" (CSIC), the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina), the National University of La Plata (Argentina) and the University of the Basque Country has been front cover of the journal Molecular Physics, as an invited article of a special volume on the Proceedings of the 55th Sanibel Symposium on theoretical and computational chemistry. These Symposia were initiated in 1961 by Per-Olov Löwdin, a former member of the Nobel Committee. Molecular magnetism manifests itself macroscopically through the magnetic moment (total spin, S) of a molecule, and is due to the presence of unpaired electrons – (poly)radicals – in the ground state of the system. The main conclusion of the article is the prediction of a system with a maximum spin Smax = 6 in its ground state (high-spin state), constructed by connecting twelve NB11H11 radical type (S = ½) icosahedra, forming a magnetic supericosahedron (first iteration). This prediction opens the door towards the design of molecular magnets based on boron molecules (boranes), since the system can be extended in three dimensions, thereby maximizing the total spin Smax in the series Smax(n) = {1/2, 6, 72, ..., 12n/2}.

Diego R. Alcoba, Ofelia B. Oña, Gustavo E. Massaccesi, Alicia Torre, Luis Lain, Rafael Notario, Josep M. Oliva
"Molecular magnetism in closo-azadodecaborane supericosahedrons", Molecular Physics (2016) 114, 3-4, 400-406.

TDP-43TDP-43 is a protein which acts in part like an editor and in part like a postman; he modifies his "messages" written in RNA, before delivering them to the cytoplasm. Under certain "bad weather" conditions, part of the TDP-43 protein acts like an "umbrella" (really a hydrogel or functional amyloid) to protect the messages. But sometimes these "umbrellas" can break and become tangled together, forming a "net" (harmful amyloid aggregates) that disrupts the message editing and delivery system, and putatively leads to cell death. In fact, TDP-43 aggregates are linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurodegenerative disease that kills 4000 Spaniards per year. The elucidation by NMR of the structure, dynamics and stability of the first quarter, or N-terminal domain, of the TDP-43 protein's structure, dynamics and stability by NMR methods provides the keys to better understand the function and malfunction of this important protein.

Mompeán M, Romano V, Pantoja-Uceda D, Stuani C, Baralle FE, Buratti E and Laurents DV "The TDP-43 N-Terminal Domain Structure at High Resolution." FEBS J. Jan 12th, 2016
doi: 10.1111/febs.13651


Bacteria microarrays for exploring pathogen-host interactions

Miércoles 8 de abril

Salón de actos, 12:00

Inauguración Cátedra Julio Palacios

Martes 14 de abril de 2015

Salón de Actos del CSIC, 17:00 horas


-Profesor Ignacio Cirac, Premio Wolf de Física 2013 y Director del Instituto Max Planck de Óptica Cuántica (Alemania)

-Profesor Albino Arenas,Catedrático de la Universida Politécnica de Madrid

-Profesor Francisco González de Posada, Catedrático de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid


El próximo 14 de Abril de 2015 a las 17:00 horas, en el Salón de Actos del CSIC (C/Serrano, 117. Madrid) tendrá lugar el acto de inauguración de la "Cátedra Julio Palacios". Julio Palacios (1891-1970) fué un insigne científico y académico español, pionero de la investigación en física en nuestro país. La conferencia inaugural será a cargo del Profesor Ignacio Cirac, Premio Wolf de Física 2013 y Director del Instituto Max Planck de Óptica Cuántica (Alemania). A continuación se impartirán sendas conferencias sobre la vida y obra científica de Julio Palacios por parte de los Catedráticos de la UPM, Profesor Albino Arenas y Profesor Francisco González de Posada. Al finalizar el acto se servirá un catering.
Para inscribirse al acto, enviar un correo electrónico a "" con el nombre, apellidos, institución y correo electrónico.

“Micelle-triggered chameleonic behaviour in peptides derived from pneumococcal LytA autolysin”

Héctor Zamora Carreras

Miércoles 11 de marzo

Salón de actos, 12:00

Norbert M. Nemes
Departamento de Fisica Aplicada III
Universidad Complutense de Madrid

"Signatures of a Two-Dimensional Ferromagnetic Electron Gas at the La0.7Sr0.3MnO3/SrTiO3Interface Arising From Orbital Reconstruction"

Viernes 6 de marzo, 10:30, sala 300

Structural insights into the the TRiC/CCT complex function and mechanism

Martes 25 de marzo

Aula 300, 12:00

Understanding the structure of hydrogen-bonded liquids by combining diffraction experiments and computer simulations
Jueves 27 de marzo
Aula 300, 12:00

Caracterización estructural y funcional de la glucosaminidasa LytB de Streptococcus pneumoniae

Miércoles 26 de marzo

Salón de Actos 12:00

"The role of protein structure in controlling the reactions of pterin-dependent non-heme hydroxylases"

Martes 18 de marzo

Salón de actos a las 12:00

Coarse-grained modelling of DNA: biophysics and nanotechnology

Jueves 20 de marzo a las 12:00

Aula 300

Evolution of NO2 levels in Spain from 1996 to 2012 and UVAS retrieval algorithms

Miércoles 12 de marzo a las 12:00

Salón de actos


"Pablo García-Risueño started his work on this subject when doing his PhD at the institute."


The problem of the electrostatic potential is almost ubiquituous in chemical and atomic/molecular simulations. In this paper just published at the Journal of Computational Chemistry (and appearing at its front cover), Pablo García-Risueno et al. present an analysis of different methods to calculate the classical electrostatic Hartree potential created by charge distributions. This work may enable more accurate and efficient simulations, helping scientists to tackle many new systems.



webMetabolic resistance to insecticides is the biggest threat to the continued effectiveness of malaria vector control. In the frame of a transnational research program, we have demonstrated that a single amino acid change in the glutathione-s-transferase confers high levels of DDT resistance in the African mosquito Anopheles funestus.  Interestingly, this metabolic resistance marker perfectly correlates with patterns of DDT resistance across Africa. The x-ray structures of two polymorphic GSTe2 corresponding to those populations presenting an intensified resistance or sensitiveness phenotypes show that the mutation confers resistance by enlarging the GSTe2 DDT-binding cavity leading to increased DDT access and metabolism. This knowledge constitutes a valuable tool for future operational monitoring of insecticide resistance in Africa and allows us to design novel molecules with enhanced insecticide properties.


A single mutation in the GSTe2 gene allows tracking of metabolically based insecticide resistance in a major malaria vector

Riveron JM, Yunta C, Ibrahim SS, Djouaka R, Irving H, Menze BD, Ismail HM, Hemingway J, H. Ranson, A. Albert  and C.S. Wondji
Genome Biology 2014, 15:R27 (25 February 2014)

Highlighted at:

Insecticide resistance comes of age (ffrench-Constant RH Genome Biology 2014, 15:106 (25 February 2014))


Figura1Investigation from the Spanish national Research Council (CSIC) has revealed new binding mechanisms of carbohydrates with quadruplex DNA. These results raise the possibility of developing carbohydrates as anticancer drugs.
DNA quadruplex structures are usually located at the telomeres (the end of chromosomes), thought they have been recently observed in oncogene promoters. In contrast with the well-known double helix, in these regions DNA adopts structures of quadruplex helix consisting of a square arrangement of guanines called tetrads.
Reference: Irene Gómez-Pinto, Empar Vengut-Climent, Ricardo Lucas, Anna Aviñó, Ramón Eritja, Carlos González, Juan Carlos Morales. Carbohydrate–DNA Interactions at G-Quadruplexes: Folding and Stability Changes by Attaching Sugars at the 5’-End. Chem. Eur. DOI: 10.1002/chem.201203902

MJSanchezDue to their sessile nature, plants have to endure adverse environmental conditions, and in this context, soil salinity is a severe and increasing constraint on the productivity of agricultural crops.
The Arabidopsis thaliana Na+/H+ plasma membrane antiporter SOS1 is essential to maintain low intracellular levels of the toxic Na+ under salt stress, and it is considered a very interesting biotechnological target for crop improvement. Researchers from IQFR, Armando Albert and María José Sánchez-Barrena, in collaboration with groups from IEM and IRNAS (CSIC) have carried out in vivo, biochemical and electron microscopy studies to understand the three- dimensional structure of this critical protein for salt tolerance.

Reference: Structural insights on the plant Salt-Overly-Sensitive 1 (SOS1) Na+/H+ antiporter
Núñez-Ramírez R, Sánchez-Barrena MJ, Villalta I, Juan F. Vega, Pardo JM, Quintero FJ,  Martínez-Salazar J, Albert A. 
Journal of Molecular Biology (2012) 424, 283-294  (doi:10.1016/j.jmb.2012.09.015)

FRETThe use of commercial long-wavelength (>650 nm) laser dyes in many biophotonic applications has several important limitations, including low absorption at the standard pump wavelength (532 nm) and poor photostability. A research group headed by L. Cerdán from IQFR, in collaboration with researchers from Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Universidad del Pais Vasco, have demostrated that the use of Förster type (FRET) energy transfer can overcome these problems to enable efficient, stable near-IR lasing in a colloidal suspension of latex nanoparticles containing a mixture of Rhodamine 6G and Nile Blue dyes.

Reference: “FRET-assisted laser emission in colloidal suspensions of dye-doped latex nanoparticles,“ L. Cerdán,* E. Enciso, V. Martín, J. Bañuelos, I. Lopez Arbeloa, A. Costela and I. García-Moreno;  Nature Photonics 2012 DOI: 10.1038/ NPHOTON.2012.201


FAFLife on Earth is based on nucleic acids that contain ribose (RNA) or deoxyribose (DNA) sugar moieties. However these are not the only polymers able to contain and transmit genetic information. It has been observed recently that, with the appropriated polymerases, nucleic acids based on other kind of sugars (such as arabinoses) can replicate.
So, why does nature use riboses? We do not know.
To help solve this problem, scientists from IQFR and McGill University in Montreal, funded by a CSIC I-link Project, have determined the structure of the “arabino nucleic acid” that it turned out to be very similar to our DNA.
Similar, but not identical. And the differences may be important, since they affect the stability of the double helix and other alternative structures. In addition, arabino-oligonucleotides and their fluoro-derivatives have very promising applications in biomedicine. In particular, they could prove very useful as they are resistant to ribonucleases, the enzymes which normally cleave and recycle nucleic acids, which in Earth have evolved to cleave nucleic acids based on ribose, but not in arabinose.
Referencia: The solution structure of double helical arabino nucleic acids (ANA and 2'F-ANA): effect of arabinoses in duplex-hairpin interconversion
Nerea Martin-Pintado et al., Nucleic Acids Res, 2012; doi: 10.1093/nar/gks672

evolucion imanacionA cobalt film two atoms thick has a magnetization direction perpendicular to the film plane when grown on ruthenium. Spin-polarized low-energy electron microscopy allows to observe its local magnetization, and follow in real time and real space changes in the magnetic domains of the film. When exposed to minute amounts of hydrogen, the out-of-plane magnetic domains in the film first break into smaller domains and eventually the magnetization direction switches on an in-plane orientation. The effect is understood with theoretical calculations that show that the origin is the change in the electronic structure of the topmost cobalt atoms bonded to hydrogen. This effect might be used to make gas sensors based on magnetic detection. The hydrogen pressure required for the effect is just one billionth of the atmospheric pressure, for a few minutes. Given the prevalence of hydrogen in ultra-high-vacuum experimental instruments, this effect also points to the risk hydrogen effects can pose for magnetization studies.
Reference: B. Santos, S. Gallego, A. Mascaraque, K.F. McCarty, A. Quesada, A.T. N’Diaye, A.K. Schmid, and J. de la Figuera. "Hydrogen-induced reversible spin-reorientation transition and magnetic stripe domain phase in bilayer Co on Ru(0001)",  Phys. Rev. B 85 (2012) 134409, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.85.134409 (arxiv 1203.3945)



Graphene peq

A team at the Institute of Physical Chemistry "Rocasolano" in Madrid predicts that graphene – a layer of carbon just one atom thick – could be used to create a perfect absorber of light if it is doped and patterned into a periodic array. The work could lead to improved light-detection devices, particularly in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum, where current technologies struggle to function.

Reference:Complete Optical Absorption in Periodically Patterned Graphene